Continuous Everything in a DevOps World

The word “continuous” seems to be the root of many agile concepts in today’s world. As agile adapts and takes on more and more evolving practices, the glossary for this lean-structured methodology gets thicker and thicker. Every day, organizations are trying and succeeding at implementing agile process methodolgies which is often why technology runs faster than we can keep up. In this blog, I discuss a few methods that organizations can use to streamline their processes.

Best Methods on How to Continuously Update

1. Continuous Integration (CI):

To begin, a good first step is to incorporate Continuous Integration (CI) into your development teams. Since it can be complicated to manage code when multiple developers are working on a project, CI will help by integrating code into a shared repository multiple times a day. Developers should test the code in a clone of the environment that lives in production before going live with it. Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) and GitHub are very helpful tools that will help you set up Continuous Integration builds by allowing the teams to find errors early in the game. Check out our TFS blog to learn a bit more on about its capabilities.

This process will allow the team to pin-point exactly when a code check-in breaks a build or fails a test. It will also minimize debugging time, allowing the team to work off one centralized location, and ultimately forcing them to communicate more effectively. Although each developer is checking out code from the same central location to their local machines, they have to keep in mind that their code has to build and run unit integration tests in the repository and therefore must wait until the system builds successfully before shouting success. This CI approach is very valuable to companies because developers can instantly react by finding solutions right away since they are more limited to what they just completed, instead of a larger portion of code.

2. Continuous Delivery (CD):

Agile focuses on getting the product quickly to the customer in order for the team to receive feedback. Integration of Continuous Delivery (CD) requires the team to have many dependable, low-risk releases. This particular process is being adopted daily by many corporations because it enables developers to make slight changes and tweaks to a system that can be released to production at any point in time. This ability is almost priceless. Incorporating CD should not have huge entry barriers if CI is already in practice and if the process for automated builds and tests are already in place.

To achieve CD, the organization needs to add functional tests, regression tests and sometimes others (i.e. acceptance tests) to get the code to a state where it can be deployed at any time when needed. The main focus of CD is not to have code deployed to production, but rather to have a package ready for deployment at crucial times. Organizations should aim to implement this change as it will reduce their lead time while providing a better quality product, which ultimately gives them a more competitive advantage.

3. Continuous Deployment:

Continuous Deployment expands on the Continuous Delivery process by going one step further and making deployments to production instead of only having the code ready for deployment. Even after passing all of the tests, making automated deployments to production can be risky – which explains why few organizations choose go to this route when they are not required to. Teams must be very tight-knit and have a strong base structure that has been built up in order to get to this point. With that being said, end-users will greatly benefit from this approach.

How? They experience the updates in real-time so users can be sure that they are operating with the latest version of the software at any time. For example, Etsy, a website dedicated for individual retail and auction space, has been very successful in incorporating Continuous Deployment. They have set up their engineers with the right tools, allowing each one to be able to test changes in Jenkins, their CI tool, which automates their process. In addition, with help from their Deployinator tool, Etsy can make one-click deployments whenever needed. Along with Etsy, firms such as Google and Amazon have mastered this approach, proving highly advantageous for their businesses because of the high value-added user experience when using the latest version of a front-facing product like this.

Continuous Development: CI, CD AND CD

After outlining the three principles of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment, we are “putting them all in one bucket” so to speak, and refer to it as Continuous Development. Continuous Development is the cross-functionality of the three practices, focusing on making small, iterative and incremental changes at smaller time intervals rather than packaging a massive change into one release.

Team Foundation Server: Easy Dynamics' Continuous Development Bucket (Continuous Integration, Delivery, Deployment)

As we discussed earlier, recent technology has reached and gone above and beyond the three steps of the Technological Evolution theory of “tools, machine, automation” by Czech philosopher Radovan Richta to what I notice is a fourth step, let’s call it the automation of automation for now. The process of Continuous Deployment does not always have developers adding new features to the current system. For instance, a huge portion of time is spent on system maintenance and ensuring the system can integrate with the other evolving technologies it’s supported by. Nowadays we rarely we see a stand-alone system that does not integrate with anything else (and for a good reason).

Now, we take a step back and look at all of the teams that need to work together to make continuous development possible – an integration defined as DevOps. This will include the development team, software quality assurance and technology operations. The issue here is that these entities are frequently managed and operated individually, therefore only creating essential communications. Developers are seen as the creators of the product; so once it’s created, then ops takes over. After ops, seamless communication, cooperation, and integration remain key components throughout the entire software development process.

Continuous Everything

Some would might call this the “never-ending” lifecycle of the product. DevOps incorporates the agile way of thinking, but it goes more in-depth than the development team. It fosters an environment where products can be created, maintained and continuously evolved using a lean structure that would break barriers that currently exist among these groups. These are the practices that currently govern and comprise the software development world, but I can be certain that it will not end here. Just like when organizations started adopting Scrum as the new way to re-image and boost team performance, DevOps will do the same.

Learn more about {{cta(‘2e671896-48a7-4e89-9e2f-22ac7224467e’)}}   because in the near future, new practices and processes will emerge and the continuous evolution of agile will continue to try and find ways to integrate and automate the already automated.

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